Over their four decades of existence, Sparks has consistently proved to be ten steps ahead of their peers, pioneering and transforming in ways few would’ve ever predicted. Enigmatic and shape-shifting, Brothers Ron and Russell Mael have done everything from,Read More
Sparks is an American band formed in Los Angeles in 1971 by brothers Ron (keyboards) and Russell Mael (vocals), renamed from Halfnelson, formed in 1968. Best known for their quirky approach to songwriting, Sparks’ music is often accompanied by intelligent, sophisticated, and acerbic lyrics, and an idiosyncratic, theatrical stage presence, typified in the contrast between Russell’s wide-eyed hyperactive frontman antics and Ron’s sedentary scowling. They are also noted for Russell Mael’s falsetto voice and Ron Mael’s keyboard style.
Though the band’s long career has seen them successfully pioneer many different musical genres; including glam rock, power pop, electronic dance music, mainstream pop and most recently chamber pop, Sparks have created their own unique musical universe. While achieving chart success in various countries around the world including United Kingdom, Germany, France, and the United States, they have enjoyed a cult following since their first releases. Sparks have been highly influential on the development of popular music, in particular on the late 1970s scene, when in collaboration with Giorgio Moroder (and Telex subsequently), they reinvented themselves as an electronic pop duo, and abandoned the traditional rock band line up. Their frequently changing styles and visual presentations have kept the band at the forefront of modern, artful pop music. They are held in esteem by such bands and performers as Kurt Cobain, Cait Brennan, Dax Riggs, Franz Ferdinand, Morrissey, Arcade Fire, MGMT, Sonic Youth, Ramones, Duran Duran, Björk, Depeche Mode, New Order, Def Leppard, Faith No More, The Pixies, Ween, Will Sheff of Okkervil River, Mark Burgess of the Chameleons, Human League, ABBA, Paul McCartney and They Might Be Giants, all of whom cite Sparks as a major influence.
The 2002 release of Lil’ Beethoven, their “genre-defying opus”, as well as the more recent albums Hello Young Lovers (2006, their 20th studio album), Exotic Creatures Of The Deep (2008), and their latest fantasy musical The Seduction of Ingmar Bergman (2009–2010) have brought Sparks renewed critical and commercial success, and seen them continue to “steer clear of pop conventions.”
Sparks are best known for the songs “This Town Ain’t Big Enough for Both of Us”, which reached number 2 in the British charts in 1974, the electronic hit “The Number One Song In Heaven” in 1979, “When I’m With You” which topped the French Charts in 1980, the single “I Predict” became Sparks’ first hit on the Billboard Hot 100 reaching #60 in May 1982, the 1984 US hit “Cool Places” with Go-Go Jane Wiedlin, and “When Do I Get To Sing ‘My Way'” which topped the German and European charts in 1994/95 and was the top airplay record in Germany for 1994.